I’m normally not a person who can binge shows. There’s a sort of commitment that I know deep down won’t be fulfilled if I embark on a series that’s too long. That’s probably why I enjoy movies so much more—especially short movies around a sweet 90-minute mark. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, however, my viewing preferences have made a complete 180° reversal. I haven’t been able to watch movies; I’ve found comfort in the escapism of a whole show’s world, letting it envelop and replace my own. I’ve watched all three seasons of Stranger Things twice now. Seriously.
At the onset of my quarantine, I leeched onto my family’s Netflix account in search of something mindless, but also something I’ve been meaning to see for a long time.
And then “Ash vs Evil Dead” appeared in my life.
The show, for what at first glance seems like The Evil Dead franchise creating its final magnum opus, is a melting pot of concepts. Everything goofy, gory, campy, and absolutely buckwild from the three original 80s movies is evident, spiced with a new stylistic production and characters (who don’t die right away!).
In ways, the three seasons of “Ash vs Evil Dead” is solely the “fun” side of the franchise; Bruce Campbell in a return-to-form role in the most Michigan dad performance in all of television, as the eponymous Ash Williams.
Conveniently, the show moves at such a brisk pace and with little care for extenuating circumstances that if someone hasn’t seen the original movies, they’ll still be caught up on all the antics Ash had been up to in the 30 years between the events of “The Evil Dead” and “Ash vs Evil Dead.”The new characters in Ash’s entourage might not be as memorable as him—or at least not as flashy and over-the-top—but they’re still plenty likeable that one genuinely cares if something bad happened to them.
Badness, of course, constantly happens. Deadites are rampant, new evils are afoot, but Ash also has fresh, clever methods of disposing of enemies—in the most brutal of ways, too. Viewers who aren’t fans of horror or gore would find the amount of blood in “Ash vs Evil Dead” too much; in fact, as a fan of both of those aforementioned things, it’s ridiculous how wretched some of the kills get. But that’s “The Evil Dead.” If it weren’t campy or illogically gruesome, I wouldn’t enjoy it.
As a franchise that is totally self-aware and lives up to its comedic horror tendencies, “Ash vs Evil Dead” doesn’t need to be a “smart” show to be a great show. Complicated plot mechanics or lore would make it seem as if the writers were trying too hard. “Ash vs Evil Dead” is by all means simplistic and bare bones: it just needs a shotgun, a chainsaw hand, a dorky catchphrase, and maybe a decent amount of fan service, to refuel and expand what was and has always been the epitome of classic horror.